It was one year ago this week that the Stepfamily Solutions of NYC Meetup Group launched. And what a difference a year has made!
The first event had 1 member show up. We were scheduled to talk about the challenges that stepfamilies face during the holiday season, and while we did talk about that topic a little bit, the pioneer member had the luxury of a one-on-one coaching session. Although she was seeking to surround herself with others facing challenges similar to her own, it was nonetheless a productive couple of hours. The group continued (and continues!) to gain exposure thanks to the vast Meetup network, and as of today we are 43 stepparents strong and have met up 11 times with 2 more scheduled for the remainder of 2013.
Out of the 43 total members, each event generally has about 6 or 7 “steps” in attendance. We like to keep it small so that everyone has an opportunity share his or her personal stories and solutions. There are some loyal regulars and some occasional attendees. There are some members who have not yet attended a Meetup but find comfort in just knowing that they are not alone. They have let me know that they follow posts on the message board and hope to someday soon be able to attend. Some members RSVP for their first event months after they join. They tell me it’s the first time they’ve managed to get away from their day-to-day responsibilities and spend some time focusing on themselves.
We’ve talked about sensitive topics such as money issues that arise in this new family structure, deciding whether or not to have another baby, implementing house rules, dealing with conflicting value systems, the all-too-common challenge of dealing with The Ex, and so much more.
Many of the members are not yet in “official” step-parenting roles, but are taking measures to learn how to deal with difficult situations they are already facing and others they are bound to encounter at some point in their role as a stepparent. We’ve celebrated engagements and weddings. We share with each other, we support each other and we find solutions together.
I honor all the stepparents who have had to the courage to admit that it’s not easy. And I thank each of them for regularly reminding us all why, despite the difficulties of this often-complicated family dynamic, it’s all worth it.
If you’re a stepparent in NYC, I hope you join us for our second year of sharing challenges and finding solutions.